Considering that Dustin Johnson paid just +500 to win the Masters earlier this year (before he bowed out of the tournament with a back injury), you may be tempted by the +1200 return being offered on DJ to win this week’s British Open.
Don’t be. Even though Johnson is still the tournament co-favourite at popular Canadian sports betting site SportsInteraction.com, it’s no coincidence that odds on the world’s No. 1 player pay nearly triple what they did at Augusta.
Here are 3 reasons we recommend not betting on DJ to claim the Claret Jug Sunday at Birkdale.
1. Sharp money has not been on Johnson
Less than one month until The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. Dustin Johnson heads the betting at 8/1…
— 888sport (@888sport) June 28, 2017
Johnson to win The Open didn’t always pay this generous of a price. In fact, 888Sport.com and other betting sites had him listed at +800 (8/1) odds 3 weeks ago.
But oddsmakers have had to inflate DJ’s odds a bit because none of the early money has been on him. The only guys betting on the tournament 3 weeks in advance are the “sharp” bettors looking to take advantage of the opening lines, and it’s wise to put a lot of stock in who they’re betting or avoiding.
At some point, if the odds get large enough, there’s enough value on Johnson to put at least a small bet on him. But +1200 still isn’t enough to get us to the betting window here.
2. He’s in poor form
After missing the cut at the US Open, can Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson do better at the Open? They’re paired together on Thursday… pic.twitter.com/04jYo0aWdz
— 32Red (@32Red) July 17, 2017
After a hot start to the season, including two victories and five top-3 finishes in a seven-tournament span, Johnson’s game has cooled off considerably.
He hasn’t made a cut in two months, and he hasn’t cracked the top 10 since tying for second at the Wells Fargo in early May.
Granted, it’s not like Johnson has been playing every tournament. He competed in just two events last month, the Memorial and the U.S. Open, and finished a combined 12-over par in 4 total rounds, missing the cut each time.
You want the tournament favourite to have a bit more momentum than that going into such a tough major as the British Open. Howling winds and thick rough aren’t exactly the best conditions in which to rediscover your game.
3. The tournament appears wide “open”
CBS Sports golf writer Kyle Porter notes that he’s having “a hard time remembering a favourite who didn’t have single digit (ie. +900 or better) odds, and we agree. It’s rare to see the top-ranked player in the British Open paying such a big return.
But that’s because this tournament looks completely open. Sports Interaction’s betting odds (pictured right) feature nine players paying +1900 or less, which is also a rarity in golf betting. Normally, you’d see a few guys listed in the +500 to +800 range, a couple players offering less than +2000, and then a bunch of players at much higher returns.
Johnson isn’t the only perennial favourite who is struggling coming into this event. Rory McIlroy has missed the cut in three of his last four outings, Jason Day has missed two straight cuts and defending Open champ Henrik Stenson has survived the cut only five times in his last nine tourneys.
You’re much better off to back players with longer odds, especially at a Royal Birkdale course that is susceptible to awful weather conditions that can equalize the playing field. The last time the tournament was held at Birkdale, winds gusted up to 50 miles per hour and the winning score was 3-over par.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood has been a popular bet because of his familiarity with the course as well as the fact he’s posted four straight top-10 finishes. But Fleetwood’s odds have been sliced from +2000 to +1300 and there no longer appears to be much value on the European.
In our opinion, a better darkhorse pick is Sergio Garcia (+1600), who has cracked the top 10 at The Open on 10 different occasions. He no longer has to worry about the choker label at major tournaments, having won the Masters earlier this year, and he’s currently third on the PGA Tour in scoring average.